The Zonta Club of Wollongong has again been overwhelmed by community support for its Birthing Kit Assembly Day.

The event, held at St Marys College last month, was in support of the Birthing Kit Foundation of Australia. Among the volunteers were Wollongong Zontians, nurses and midwives, and students from St Marys and Edmund Rice Colleges.

Fuelled by morning tea and cake, the attendees soon reached the goal of assembling 1000 kits.

A kit costs only $3 to make and transport, and contains six items necessary for a safe and sanitary childbirth.

“The most important challenge is to provide a clean birthing environment,” Director of Birthing Kit Foundation Australia Heather Weaver said,

Each kit is basic, containing a plastic sheet, soap, two gloves, a sterile scalpel blade, three cords and five gauze squares.

The secretary of Zonta Wollongong, Grace Freckelton, explained the club’s contribution to the foundation, saying “Every year we do 1000 kits, then we send them off to the head office of the Birthing Kit Foundation in Australia, and then they distribute them to where they’re actually needed, which for the past two years has been The Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Sheldri Weston, board member for Zonta District 24

The 3000 kits assembled thus far by the Wollongong club, make up a small fraction of the 1.6 million produced since the foundation’s inception. 2016 marks the 10th anniversary since the Birthing Kit Foundation was established, and all kits made in this time have been distributed in developing nations such as Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, India and Afghanistan.

The Birthing Kit Foundation operates Internationally, promoting clean and safe birthing practices and women's empowerment

The Birthing Kit Foundation operates Internationally, and promotes clean and safe birthing practices and women’s empowerment

“We take safe birth for granted in Australia. If the maternal mortality rates here reflected those in areas such as the Congo and Ethiopia, there would be a public outcry. Birthing kits, and the education that goes with them, have saved, and will continue to save, thousands of lives,” Wollongong Hospital’s antenatal coordinator, Leanne Cummins said,

“Our primary goal is to avoid basic infections due to unsafe and unsanitary childbirth practices.

“We’d love to know how many lives we’ve saved, and how many infections we’ve prevented in both women and babies.”

Organisers declared the assembly day a great success.

“The tangible and physical interaction involved in assembling a kit has had a huge impact upon women, not only those in developing communities, but in Australia,” Ms Weaver said.

“The experience of making a kit is a gift not only for the women who will receive them, but for the women here who have received a new, deeper understanding and empathy for women internationally.”

You can donate time or money to the and Birthing Kit Foundations here.